Denis Dutton

Denis Dutton was a thought-provoking, good-humoured and inspirational critical thinker who, as a founder-member of the NZ Skeptics, philosophy lecturer at Canterbury University and founder-editor of the highly regarded Arts & Letters Daily website, influenced and informed the thinking of people throughout New Zealand and worldwide.

The NZ Skeptics honour his example and his passion for critical thought with the Denis Dutton Award for New Zealand Skeptic of the Year. The award is given to the skeptic who has had the most impact within New Zealand skepticism. The award comes with a year’s free membership to the NZ Skeptics and $100 prize money.

Year Recipient Link
2019 While a number of members have worked hard this year with their activism and service to the community, the committee were not able to single out one member whose contributions could be said to have the most impact. Hence it was agreed to not make an award this year.
2018 Jessica Macfarlane for her tireless efforts as editor of the NZ Skeptics quarterly journal
2017 Helen Petousis-Harris and
Lance O’Sullivan
for their courageous and highly visible contributions to the promotion of immunisation and vaccination in New Zealand.

2017 saw the release of the anti-vaccination propaganda film VAXXED, which features disgraced former gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off the UK medical register for his fraudulent 1998 research paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Screenings of VAXXED took place around New Zealand. 

During 2017 there were also a number of serious outbreaks of communicable diseases in New Zealand, including mumps, measles and whooping cough. The mumps outbreak is the most significant the country has experienced in over 2 decades.

Helen and Lance both made important and high-profile actions during the year in support of vaccination, and have been widely vilified by anti-vaccination proponents as a result.

2016 Siouxsie Wiles for her continued efforts to bring skepticism to the media. This year alone she’s taken on MPs, anti-vaxxers and Mike Hosking, tackled topics such as e-cigarettes and the zika virus, and appeared in her regular radio slot “Skeptical Thoughts” with Graeme Hill on RadioLive.
2015 Daniel Ryan for his work as President of Making Sense Fluoride, including giving a presentation to Hutt City Council – as well as his efforts helping to run the Society for Science Based Healthcare, NZ Skeptics and the Skeptical Activism group in Wellington (with an impressive 17 successful ASA complaints to his name).
2014 Mark Hanna for tirelessly battling pseudoscience via the ASA, MedSafe and many other means, and for creating the Society for Science Based Healthcare.